As a web designer I find application-independent color picking tools extremely useful. I am often working with an array of applications simultaneously and the color I want to identify/dissect/define can be present anywhere on my screen. Being tied to the color picker from either Photoshop or Gimp is very limiting. Usually their “dropper” tool will only work within their own environments and windows. This makes identifying colors that appear on websites impossible without a standalone color picking application (unless you use something like firebug to see the color’s identity in the sourcecode/dom).
Gcolor2 is an excellent and simple little tool for web designers and developers running Linux. It has a dropper that can select a color from anywhere on screen and it describes each color in hexadecimal as well as HSV and RGB parameters. You can even keep a list of saved colors if would like.
However, the one shortcoming of the application is its bronze-age icon. It looks like it would be right at home on any ’90s-era desktop. See for yourself:
Needless to say, it looks awkward in the context of any contemporary desktop. It also lacks a nice clean edge, giving it jagged silhouette. For this reason I opened up Inkscape one night and created a new icon for Gcolor2. I really think the “drawn with a crayon” look was a ’90s style, so I abandoned that approach and recreated the tri-color cube as a more contemporary and clean-edged glowing box:
I think this a good solution. It’s not a complete departure from the original design but it is a refresh that will hopefully look great on the latest desktop systems. I have tried to submit it to the Gcolor2 project, but there hasn’t been an update since 2005 and none of the developers seem to have time to respond to my proposed new artwork. Today I submitted a patch and included the new artwork as a PNG and SVG files. You can certainly go there to get them, but you can also download the files here if you’d like to update your own desktop:
Another great application for working with colors in Linux is called Agave. It generates color schemes based on various color relationships like complementary, triadic, tetradic and analogous. Just give it one color and it will give you other colors according to the relationship type you specify. Fortunately it already has a very nice icon!